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Using Brain Waves Can Shorten Braking Distance

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  • Just what we need a high tech system that can fail THAT IS PART of BRAKES systems. The last thing you want is a BSOD when the you want to stop now.............

  • Using brain waves increases the odds of a head-tail collision.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Monday August 01, 2011 @08:01PM (#36954336)

    Seems like way too much potential for false alarm - what happens when I'm driving along and thinking "Crap, I forgot to STOP for milk" or I see someone across the street about to get hit by a car and I think "That car's going to hit him, he better STOP! And my mind goes through the thought process of applying the brakes even though I don't do so"

    I bet they can get nearly the same result by using motion sensors to detect the motion of the driver's foot off the gas pedal and over to the brakes - as soon as it sees the driver let up on the gas, it can prime the brakes and get ready for a panic stop based on the driver's next move - maybe instead of saving 12 feet of stopping distance they can only save 6 feet, but in a panic stop from 65mph, 6 feet (or even 12 feet) is rarely the different between a safe stop and an injury collision.

    But an unexpected panic stop at 65mph with a 40 ton 18 wheeler right behind you could be fatal - even if he has this magic thought-control system, the laws of physics guarantee that your small car will stop faster than his heavy truck.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Why trigger off the brain signal corresponding to the word "stop"? Perhaps they can trigger it off the brain signal that tells your foot to move left and push. My (admittedly limited) understanding of the brain is that it's easier to pick up on motor control signals than thoughts anyway. Added bonus - parents teaching their kids to drive could wear the sensors too, so that now when you slam on the imaginary passenger-side brake, the car actually stops!

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Why trigger off the brain signal corresponding to the word "stop"? Perhaps they can trigger it off the brain signal that tells your foot to move left and push. My (admittedly limited) understanding of the brain is that it's easier to pick up on motor control signals than thoughts anyway. Added bonus - parents teaching their kids to drive could wear the sensors too, so that now when you slam on the imaginary passenger-side brake, the car actually stops!

        I didn't say (or even think) that it was triggered off mentally thinking the word stop - that wouldn't work anyway since I rarely tell myself to "stop" when I see a road hazard.

        But as I said: or I see someone across the street about to get hit by a car and I think "That car's going to hit him, he better STOP! And my mind goes through the thought process of applying the brakes even though I don't do so

        If I see someone about to get crunched by a car I may involuntarily cringe and mentally imagine stopping, th

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by artor3 (1344997)

          Your mind does not go through the process of applying the brakes without your actually doing so. It's not like your muscles have minds of their own and think "oh, that silly brain! he's just messing with me!" Your conscious mind may consider sending the signals, but the signals are not actually sent - if they are, then your muscles would move.

          Your brain either sends the signal to the muscles or it does not. That's the signal they should be looking for.

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Your mind does not go through the process of applying the brakes without your actually doing so. It's not like your muscles have minds of their own and think "oh, that silly brain! he's just messing with me!" Your conscious mind may consider sending the signals, but the signals are not actually sent - if they are, then your muscles would move.

            Your brain either sends the signal to the muscles or it does not. That's the signal they should be looking for.

            Then why do they say that it reads "intentions"? If all they were doing is keying off muscle movement they wouldn't need to read brain waves, they'd just use sensors on the muscles.

            From TFA:

            Lead investigator Benjamin Blankertz added: "It's quite easily explained by the fact that we can tap the driver's intention at the source of the build up of intention in the brain.

            "It's a longer process, from the very first upcoming cognitive processes and intention building, until finally the muscles start the movement."

            • by artor3 (1344997)

              Because thought isn't instantaneous, and there is bound to be a delay from when your mind starts the "move a muscle" signal and when that signal actually travels down your spine and to the muscles.

              • by hawguy (1600213)

                Because thought isn't instantaneous, and there is bound to be a delay from when your mind starts the "move a muscle" signal and when that signal actually travels down your spine and to the muscles.

                Muscle position signals travel around 100m/sec [hypertextbook.com], so should take only around 20 msec to travel from the brain to the feet. These scientists are claiming to save 130msec from the reaction time, so they aren't just detecting muscle motion nerve impulses.

                • There's also the physical time involved in moving your foot left and then pressing the brake. I expect that's dominant.

                  Additionally, your reference gives a range of thought signal speeds.

          • Your mind does not go through the process of applying the brakes without your actually doing so.

            Nonsense! Haven't you ever ridden as a passenger with someone who drives faster than you normally do?

            My left foot get tired from trying to hit the brakes constantly, even from the passenger seat, without ever moving....

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Why trigger off the brain signal corresponding to the word "stop"? Perhaps they can trigger it off the brain signal that tells your foot to move left and push.

        Perhaps they should simply trigger it proportionally by sphincter clench.

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      But an unexpected panic stop at 65mph with a 40 ton 18 wheeler right behind you could be fatal - even if he has this magic thought-control system, the laws of physics guarantee that your small car will stop faster than his heavy truck.

      If the trucker driver isn't tailgating [wikipedia.org] (driving on a road too close to the vehicle in front, at a distance which does not guarantee that stopping to avoid collision is possible), it won't be a problem.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        But an unexpected panic stop at 65mph with a 40 ton 18 wheeler right behind you could be fatal - even if he has this magic thought-control system, the laws of physics guarantee that your small car will stop faster than his heavy truck.

        If the trucker driver isn't tailgating [wikipedia.org] (driving on a road too close to the vehicle in front, at a distance which does not guarantee that stopping to avoid collision is possible), it won't be a problem.

        Yes, and if people would always stop at stop signs, and always yield right of way, and never drive too fast for conditions, and not drive while impaired, and not drive while distracted and do everything else a driver should do, driving would be much much safer for everyone.

        Of course, in the real world, people don't drive like that.

        • by Ichijo (607641)

          Yes, and if people would always stop at stop signs, and always yield right of way, and never drive too fast for conditions, and not drive while impaired, and not drive while distracted and do everything else a driver should do, driving would be much much safer for everyone. Of course, in the real world, people don't drive like that.

          Calling this technology unsafe because of a few bad drivers is like calling airbags unsafe because of a few airbag fatalities.

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Yes, and if people would always stop at stop signs, and always yield right of way, and never drive too fast for conditions, and not drive while impaired, and not drive while distracted and do everything else a driver should do, driving would be much much safer for everyone. Of course, in the real world, people don't drive like that.

            Calling this technology unsafe because of a few bad drivers is like calling airbags unsafe because of a few airbag fatalities.

            A few bad drivers? Have you ever driven on a freeway in the USA? Near any large city? Imagine what would happen if you suddenly jammed on the brakes in heavy traffic -- that's what would happen in a false alarm from this system.

            I can tell you what happens because I've witnessed a 5 car accident caused by a deer on the road and one driver panic stopped, got rear ended and ended up in the neighboring lane were he got t-boned - one driver ended up going to the hospital. The deer was fine. Fortunately I was on

            • by Isaac-1 (233099)

              My problem with this technology is that I think the delay between when the brain says "PANIC STOP" and the time it takes to get the foot to the brake peddle gives many drivers the time needed decide against the panic stop and opt for a more controlled action instead. I was just in one of those situations today on a multi lane expressway. I was in one of the left lanes when a truck pulling a goosneck construction trailer two lanes right of me and less than a hundred feet ahead had a tire blow out and quick

              • I doubt it. I'd imagine that they pick up the signal once it was too late to change your mind. The article mentions the point of new return several times. At that point, you're pressing the brake; there's no stopping that and changing your mind.

        • by dr2chase (653338)

          You propose this as a reason for not adopting this technology, but it looks like it could just as easily apply to cars in general.

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            You propose this as a reason for not adopting this technology, but it looks like it could just as easily apply to cars in general.

            No, I'm saying that the risk-reward benefit doesn't seem to be there. One intended panic stop can erase the benefit of a dozen cars having a slightly reduced stopping distance.

            There's an obvious risk-reward benefit for driving - car assisted mobility is extremely valuable.

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        Conversely, if the truck driver IS tailgating, your car will not have had significant time to decelerate, meaning the impact velocity will be relatively small. A collision will occur, but assuming the impact does not upset your car's balance and cause it to lose rear traction, it will be fairly minor.
    • That's Not How It Works! ... I don't know but i'd imagine the brain gives off signals requiring simultaneous activation of locamator, fear, and decisions areas to indicate an attempt. I don't imagine their looking for something as general as "oh shit". DNRTFA
      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Did you even read my post?

        I didn't say (or even think) that it was triggered off mentally thinking the word stop - that wouldn't work anyway since I rarely tell myself to "stop" when I see a road hazard.

        But as I said: or I see someone across the street about to get hit by a car and I think "That car's going to hit him, he better STOP! And my mind goes through the thought process of applying the brakes even though I don't do so

        If I see someone about to get crunched by a car I may involuntarily cringe and men

        • I don't get why you assume that this system triggers on your oh shit reflex rather than you actually deciding to stop.

          Clenching your leg muscles, mentally imagining stopping -- that's what the GP was referring to when he said "oh shit".

          I mean, maybe it's hard to detect the right response but in principle it should be perfectly possible to get no false positives (other than the case where you totally wanted to hit the brakes but it turns out that your feet were obstructed, eg. a child had grabbed your shoela

    • by yodleboy (982200) on Monday August 01, 2011 @09:57PM (#36955152)
      Yeah, the sensor solution works pretty well. I had a Mercedes Benz a few years ago that was able to detect a 'panic stop' situation and would apply the brakes much harder and faster than normally. I tried a lot of times to fool it, but the only times it fired were real panic stops. The difference in stopping time/distance was pretty startling. Once at around 50 mph there was an accident ahead of me and i slammed on the brakes. I stopped so abruptly, it felt like the back of the car was going to come off the ground and keep on going. that would have been funny, a 4 wheel luxury endo. personally, i'd like thought controlled wipers/lights/signals/radio. Hell maybe even shifting. That would be cool.
      • by gknoy (899301)

        I wonder how it can differentiate a "panic" stop from a regular one.

        • by yodleboy (982200)
          google brake assist. here's one description of the system MB uses.

          How Does Brake Assist Work?

          "Slamming on the brakes sends a signal to the brake assist system, which senses the speed and pressure applied to the brake pedal. Emergency indicated, maximum clamping power is directed to the calipers and brake pistons as the Anti Lock Brake System (ABS) pumps the brake pedal. This maximum braking, while maintaining control stops the car as much as 45% faster than an equivalent vehicle without brake assist.
    • When that ***hole in front of you is going the ****in speed limit, like the ****off that he probably, definitely is... you can ride his *** better, knowing you have an extra 10 feet of stop distance over him...
      Fucking Yankees fan...

    • Well, the article itself points out that the technology is useless for driving, since it is based on EEG readings (with 64 leads!) and EEGs only work if you keep still. I once spent an evening fucking around with a 5-lead EEG hooked up to my head (it was part of some silly "neurofeedback" apparatus that I borrowed from a clinic) so I can attest to this personally. If I made a sudden movement, or even furrowed my brow the wrong way, I would get all kinds of crazy artifacts that completely swamped the actua

    • You hit on the problem, but the real problem is those times when I see something and start to move my foot for an emergency brake, but than abort the move before I get to the brake because the potential danger has not materialized. An example of where that has happened, I was traveling on an interstate early in the morning, I saw a deer that was facing the roadway start and it looked as if it would jump out into the path of my car. As a result I lifted my foot off of the accelerator and started to move it t
    • A Prius with its rock hard tires takes about 130 ft to stop from 60mph.
      A corvette about 100ft. Save 30 ft by choosing the right car :)

    • Seems like way too much potential for false alarm - what happens when I'm driving along and thinking "Crap, I forgot to STOP for milk" or I see someone across the street about to get hit by a car and I think "That car's going to hit him, he better STOP! And my mind goes through the thought process of applying the brakes even though I don't do so"

      If they were able to trigger on arbitrary words in your thoughts I'd suggest that they forget the whole braking thing and make a text input system instead. Somehow I don't believe they can do that yet :)

      However, the article agrees with you in that they are worried about false alarms. They also state that similar technology is in use in the area of prosthetics, wheel chair and computer control. /me goes off to read about how people control artificial limbs [howstuffworks.com]. Fascinating stuff.

  • by Carewolf (581105) on Monday August 01, 2011 @08:02PM (#36954346) Homepage

    Keep a distance between cars of at least 2 seconds. Who cares about reducing optimal human reaction-time. You might reduce the best-case reaction time from 300ms to 200ms, but you still have 0.5-1s of decision making before reaction-time kicks in, and then another 1-2s while the car breaks.
    Saving 100ms in leg movement doesn't seem very important, when the real risk is how long it takes for the brain to raise the alarm and decide on the correct action, and then the actual breaking which still takes a long time.

    • by webdog314 (960286)

      Seriously. I mean why not skip the electrodes and simply DRIVE SLOWER.

    • by dohzer (867770)

      And while you're at it, keep a two second distance from every obstacle, including the unpredictable ones that come out of nowhere, such as pedestrians and falling trees.
      Oh, wait....

    • by Skidborg (1585365) on Monday August 01, 2011 @08:35PM (#36954636)
      The distance between cars may not matter if the problem is something else entirely suddenly dashing into the street. Wildlife is a real issue in some parts of the world.
    • by mjwx (966435) on Monday August 01, 2011 @09:09PM (#36954828)

      Keep a distance between cars of at least 2 seconds.

      2 seconds is the absolute bare minimum distance you need to maintain. 3 seconds is recommended here in Oz because so many factors affect stopping distance. Your reaction time is going to be between 1.5 and 3 seconds alone depending on fatigue and alertness. Very few drivers will be capable of fully applying the brakes in under 1.5 seconds whilst a distracted driver will rarely be able to react in under 3 seconds.

      Saving 100ms in leg movement doesn't seem very important, when the real risk is how long it takes for the brain to raise the alarm and decide on the correct action, and then the actual breaking which still takes a long time.

      True,

      Stopping distance is reaction distance + braking distance. Reaction distance is always at full speed (say 60 KM/h) whilst braking distance is how long it takes your car to stop.

      Reaction distance at 50 KM/h is 20.8 metres, at 60 KM/h is 25 metres and at 70 KM/h it's 29.1 meters. this is the distance travelled before even engaging the brakes.

      To increase road safety, you want to drive slower and have more room with the vehicle in front of you. Unfortunately if you leave a wide enough a gap between you and the vehicle in front of you in too many cities some moron will try to take up that space cutting a 4 or 5 second gap down to a 1 second gap.

    • by Solandri (704621)

      Keep a distance between cars of at least 2 seconds.

      This is a great idea in theory. But in practice, most of time I open up a space larger than 2 sec between me and the car in front, someone pulls into it. Driving is a collaborative effort between you and the people around you. Unfortunately, this means that actual following distance is dictated by the person who believes in a shorter "safe following distance", not longer. In fact it's sometimes dictated by idiots who think a space barely big enough to

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They'd have to look up from their texting, eating, reading, shaving, or make-up applying in order for their brain to trigger the breaking.
    Want to reduce traffic "accidents" by 90%? Install cameras pointing at the drivers. Instead of paying welfare, pay minimum wage for people to review footage. Revoke licenses based on repeat offenses by the same person.

    Seriously, there were more than 5.5 million car accidents in the United States in 2009. Nearly 31,000 were fatal, and more than 2 million people were injur

    • by ChrisMP1 (1130781)
      Just no. People are only human. They make mistakes (yes, bad decisions can be considered 'mistakes'). Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do every day, but we still choose to do it. When I get in my car and drive on the highway, I'm putting people in danger. I could be distracted at exactly the right moment and miss a deer that walked out, or I could have forgotten to replace my tires and have a blowout, etc. Now, I'm usually a very safe driver, but shit happens. When I get on the road, I accept
      • This reminds me of the maxim I usually apply: all driving situations are at most 2 mistakes away from serious danger. Somebody stepping out and you not anticipating it, somebody lane changing without indicating and you not noticing the telltale signs, somebody braking excessively hard and you not keeping enough distance to start with. The best you can do is to make sure you don't make your half of the mistakes.

        • by gknoy (899301)

          That's a very insightful way of looking at it. The other thing that my mother taught me was to always assume that the other driver is lying. They're not really going to turn right before they get to you, they ARE going to pass you and cut you off with no signal, etc. It sounds pessimistic, but it's actually somewhat relaxing for freeway driving. I will see people come up behind me (going much faster than most others), watch them zoom around me, and think, "yep, he's going to cut me off... I'll just back o

  • With one caveat -- you have to think in Russian.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If this the case, then, you can expect the government to go full speed ahead with no business as usual.

  • One flaw: (Score:4, Funny)

    by jd2112 (1535857) on Monday August 01, 2011 @10:46PM (#36955522)

    It's derived from experimental Soviet era jet fighter technology, so you have to think 'Stop' in Russian. But I hear Clint Eastwood is getting one installed in his car.

    (If you don't get it search for 'Firefox' on imdb.com)

    • by Alsee (515537)

      (If you don't get it search for 'Firefox' on imdb.com)

      Some of us prefer Chrome and Opera, you insensitive clod!

      -

  • Most of the delay comes from your brain actually waking up, analyze and start braking. Another delay comes from your leg moving and pressing the brake.
    The controlling part could be automated but not the analyzing part. Otherwise there will be false alarms.

    I also hope they measure the brain activity from the correct place, i.e. from the motor pathway controlling the legs.

    Maybe the best way would be to totally automate the simplest braking situations (i.e. brake when something is going to hit the car). Have g

  • Although more efficient braking technology may improve braking distance by 10-20 feet, better awareness of ones surroundings can put a hundred feet of space between a driver and the hazard ahead without any changes in following distance or braking technology.

    When we race, it's fairly typical to see following distances of a few feet at speeds in excess of a hundred miles per hour. We do this without brake light. Although rear end collisions do happen, it's actually a fairly atypical incident.

    • by gknoy (899301)

      Good point. Looking several cars ahead (while still aware of the ones in front of you) helps one notice brakes ahead and react earlier than if one were to wait for the guy in front of you to hit his brakes.

  • I have lasers mounted on my sharkmobile's hood. I don't need no frikkin' brakes.

    But having them triggered by brainwaves would be kinda cool....

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